Holidays can bring on some of the worst disputes in child custody. Often, this is because one parent is trying to change the holiday-sharing agreement without the consent of the other parent. Other times, holiday plans are made on both sides that don’t follow the parenting plan. In either case, violation consequences can be serious should one parent decide to go to court. The court doesn’t look favorably on misbehavior around the holidays as these conflicts can have a really negative impact on the children, so the judge is more likely to enforce the available penalties.
Know your plan
Be fully familiar with your court order or parenting plan in the area of holiday time sharing. You need to know exactly what you and the other parent are entitled to, including the times allotted to each of you for specific holidays and any respective eves. If you have an issue with a particular holiday arrangement, speak to your ex if possible. It’s better if the two of you can work it out together and agree on a modification to file with the court. If you can’t come to an agreement, you’ll need to take your ex back to court. Don’t attempt to ignore the terms of the current parenting plan or court order. You must honor those terms until the court okays any changes. Failing to follow your agreement could lead to very serious charges, including contempt of court and custodial interference.
Contempt of court
Any violation of a court order could be considered contempt of court. In New Mexico, contempt of court may mean fines, attorney fees, loss of time with the children, and even jail time in some cases. This applies if you violate a court order regarding the visitation and custody of your kids. While the judge normally won’t use contempt of court in a child custody case because these types of cases can be heated until they are fully resolved, the heightened concern for the children’s well being around holidays could make it a possibility.
If either parent withholds the children from the other parent for a long period of time, it is known as custodial interference. This is a felony charge that carries very serious penalties. While a holiday infraction probably won’t meet the definition of “long period,” you can still be investigated for this by the court if the other parent alleges you have been keeping the children away from him or her and the holiday is just another event in a series. At that point, it will be up to the investigating court officer to determine if custodial interference has taken place. If you’re found guilty of custodial interference, you could be facing jail time, loss of custody or visitation, and attorney fees and fines.
Follow the plan during the holidays
Given how seriously the court will take holiday time sharing violations, it’s always risky not to respect the other parent’s rights to the children during these times. The consequences you’ll face for doing so are severe as it’s not considered to be in the best interest of your children. Even if you feel a holiday arrangement is unfair, you must follow it until you can get it modified. The same applies to your ex, so if he or she is trying to change the holiday sharing terms without your agreement, seek legal help immediately.
If you’re facing a potential holiday time sharing problem, speak to an experienced family law attorney today. You’ll need to take legal action immediately to protect your rights, and more importantly, your children’s well being.